If you’re not sure of a new sport like skiing, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing then renting the equipment is definitely the way to go. I’ve been snowshoeing every winter for about 5 years now.
The first snowshoeing expedition was in a group lesson with a guide and transportation up to Mt. Hood. It was a good first experience–while it was ALL DAY LONG and I was completely exhausted when I was done, it was still a great experience. As a group we all rented snowshoes together and were instructed on how to use them.
Last year I took Michael snowshoeing for the first time on Mt. Bachelor. We were in Bend for my birthday and I signed us up for a guided adventure through Wanderlust Tours.
That was also a great experience and they provided snowshoes. Again, excellent experiences.
Last year Michael and I went back to Bend with some friends and the four of us rented snowshoes here in Portland and took them with us to Bend. We did the Swampy Lakes Trail Loop without a guide. We had a great time and it was liberating being able to finally trek into the woods and snow without a guide.
There weren’t too many “incidents” on that self-guided trek. A few of us did have problems with our rented snowshoes, though. They were the MRS Denali type of snowshoe. In my opinion these are crappy snowshoes. The design is so poor on them.
I hope you can see what I’m talking about as I describe the flaw in the design. The reason the design is poor (and caused difficulties the last few times we used them) is because of the buckle system. The plastic buckles don’t stay closed.
I found the above photo online, it wasn’t taken by me. I didn’t think about taking the photo of the shoes last week. The buckle folds and sort of clasps but it doesn’t stay in the hole of the buckle. Plus, there’s a little plastic lip attached to the show where the buckle SHOULD fit into so it stays closed. It does not in this model. Especially if the plastic lip is broken (which ours were on the rentals).
These types of rentals are also big, bulky and heavier. Instead of this type, I prefer the lightweight aluminum snowshoes that have a looping strap.
Or shoes that have buckles that latch firmly in and don’t move would work too. Check out this excellent website for more descriptions on the different types (recreational/trek/back-country/racing) of snowshoes available.
Renting is a good thing. If you are still new to the sport it makes better sense to rent it a few times, go on guided and unguided treks to see if it’s even a sport you enjoy. If it is and you plan on going snowshoeing more than once or twice a winter–BUY.
Snowshoe rentals plus poles run between $10-15 a day. That’s not too bad honestly. For $20 a person you can spend the day tromping through the snow. Don’t forget the Sno-Park Passes. There are daily, weekly and yearly passes. In Oregon they run between $5-30.
So if you’re going to go snowshoeing once a year, renting is the best bet. If you’re going to go more than once a year I suggest buying. In fact Michael and I are now looking for snowshoes to buy. I will not rent them again after the last two experiences with bum shoes.
Snowshoes AREN’T that expensive either – under $100 for many models. Plus, if you buy from REI they guarantee their products completely; even if you use the product and something breaks on it they will replace it.
I hope this has encouraged some people out there to give snowshoeing a try!
QUESTION: Do you own or rent your snow gear?